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With only them vulnerable, right hand opponent dealt and opened two spades (weak).

I overcalled three hearts with the following: ♠ K8 ♡ AKQJ52 ♢J976 ♣ J. I thought of making a "big" double before overcalling, but considered my hand too weak.

Partner raised to four hearts. All the pairs with our cards (including us) made six, and all but us and another pair bid six, so we shared a bottom with the other pair. The salient reasons were:

  1. Partner had AQTxx of diamonds (giving us a double fit), and the K of diamonds was onside the finesses.
  2. The ace of spades was onside the finesse to the K8.
  3. Partner had the ace of clubs opposite my singleton.

How could this slam have been bid? Should it have been? For instance, could one have reasonably inferred from the opening bid that both finesses would have worked?

Or is it the case that we would have gotten a shared top if one of the finesses had failed and we did well to refrain from bidding slam despite the "poor" result?

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    Please give your partner's hand. It's hard to give a full auction with only bits and bobs of information.
    – ruds
    Jul 12, 2023 at 2:09
  • @ruds: Partner's hand was ♠ Q ♡ 9763 ♢AQT53 ♣ AQ7.
    – Tom Au
    Jul 12, 2023 at 2:24
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    This is a very deep question; and it's not at all clear to me that you should be bidding this slam - it depends critically on what you know about opponents (ie are they top 1/4, second 1/4, or bottom 1/2 of the club) and on their exact agreements ( in 1st seat red on white) on opening Weak Two's, opening major suit Preempts at the 3 level, and opening major suit openings. Please expand without telling me any more about their actual holdings, and specifically without telling me the location of either spade jack or club king, or a possible seventh spade in opener's hand.. Jul 12, 2023 at 13:11
  • @ForgetIwaseverhere: Our opponents were among the most solid and conservative players in the club (although I don't know their conventions).. It is divided into two groups, call them A and B. I typically score in the 45%-50% range against this, the "A" group, (49% on this occasion) almost 60% against the "B" group, and in the 50%-55% range in a "blended" crowd. More than the specific advice, I am glad to hear from you that this is a "deep" non-trivial question. My guess is that on amost days, one finesse fails and we share a top.
    – Tom Au
    Jul 12, 2023 at 19:24
  • @ForgetIwaseverhere: This slam may be biddable against particular opponents in the club who would routinely overcall with AQxxxx or Ajxxxx of spades (spade finesse works), and little else (diamond finesse works). Our opponents weren't among these people although on this day, both finesses were "on."
    – Tom Au
    Jul 14, 2023 at 15:47

3 Answers 3

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I agree with you; you don't have the right hand to double and then bid hearts. I would not choose that course of action over a one-level bid, much less over a preempt.

In my opinion, partner is too strong to raise directly to 4H. A full opening hand, known fit with 9+ hearts, two aces, and shortness in opponents' suit should have partner thinking that slam is possible, even though you are somewhat limited by your bid of 3H instead of doubling. My choice with partner's hand would be a cue bid of 3S.

A reasonable (though somewhat aggressive) auction could be something like

(2S) 3H  3S
     4C  4NT
     5H  6H

3S shows a good raise of hearts. Overcaller is pleased to hear it and cooperates with 4C, a cue bid showing first or second round control. Now advancer sees that all the suits are controlled and partner is slam positive, so makes a somewhat aggressive move and asks for keycards. When partner shows two with the queen, we're off a keycard so we settle for the small slam.

You were fortunate to have so little interference from opponents. With a 10-card fit in spades, opponents should have been more in your face. I might expect some tables to start (2S) 3H (4S) 5H (P). Now you're in a tough spot but probably have to try 6H.

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This slam may be biddable against particular opponents in the club who would routinely overcall with AQxxxx or AJxxxx of spades (spade finesse works), and little else (diamond finesse works). Our opponents weren't among these people although on this day, both finesses were "on." Responder would have to bid four diamonds, and the overcaller would have to make the aforementioned inferences (or hope the responder had at least the AK of diamonds).

This seems to be one of those plays that often work against a weak field, but probably should be shunned by players of serious bridge because they will usually fail against sound players. My guess is that on more days than not, one finesse fails (most likely the diamond finesse) and the two cautious pairs share a top. And even in this field, our opponents were among the sounder ones.

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  • Tom, There is no spade finesse on the pair of hands you gave. Q across from K8 means that you will always lose exactly one spade trick no matter which hand holds the SA, and that this will establish for your side a trick in spades.
    – ruds
    Jul 17, 2023 at 21:56
  • The following hands are all reasonable 2S openings in first seat unfavorable: - AJTxxx x xxx KTx - AJTxxx xxx x xxx - AJTxxx xx Kxx xx - AJTxxx xx xx Kxx This hand is not a reasonable 2S opening first seat unfavorable: JTxxxx x Kxx Kxx (too much defense, trumps too poor). I rate it at slightly better than 50% that the diamond K is onside.
    – ruds
    Jul 17, 2023 at 21:57
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The bidding is already well explained in ruds answer but they didn't address the finesse. First, opponent opened a weak 2 spades in first position. You have the K of spades. So if the opponent doesn't have the ace they have neither of the top two honours. You can ask your opponents about their exact requirements for a weak two opening in first position but 6 spades without the top two honours seems too weak in first position (it's probably fine in third position after 2 passes).

Next a good weak two opening hand has little values outside the trump suit which makes it more likely that the king of diamonds is to your left.

I don't think you can guarantee whether the finesses will work but the odds here are much better than the 1 in 4 you have with no extra information.

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